New York Announces Vaccine Mandates, but Masks Remain Optional in NYC

New York covid cases vaccine mandates

Photo illustration by Katie Couric Media

Covid-19 cases are climbing statewide. Here’s how officials are responding.

As officials across the country continue to navigate the challenges of this stage of the Covid-19 pandemic, we turn our eyes today to New York for the latest on what steps the Empire State is taking to address infection rates that are once again on the rise.

The latest number of Covid-19 cases in New York

As of Aug. 1, the state saw a seven-day average of 2,280 new Covid-19 cases per day — a significant increase from the average of 328 just a month earlier, according to New York Times data. About 1,200 of those daily cases are in New York City. These numbers come even as 75 percent of adults statewide have received at least one dose of a vaccine, which is shown to be effective at curbing the severity of infections even if it doesn’t totally prevent them.

Are there vaccine mandates in NYC?

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that more than 70,000 transportation workers would be required to get vaccinated by Labor Day or submit to weekly Covid tests, adding those employees to the same guidelines already in place for government workers statewide and municipal workers in NYC. The governor is considering a similar mandate for teachers and nursing home workers if case numbers continue to climb. “You should be vaccinated, or don’t work in a frontline position,” Cuomo said.

Are there vaccine requirements at NYC bars, restaurants, and theaters?

The Big Apple will become the first American city to institute a vaccine requirement for indoor activities at restaurants, gyms, and performance spaces, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday. The policy — which takes effect later this month, with enforcement officially beginning Sept. 13 — will include a new “Key to NYC” pass for residents to provide proof that they’ve been fully vaccinated against Covid.

“Not everyone is going to agree with this, I understand that,” de Blasio said. “But for so many people, this is going to be a lifesaving act, that we are putting a mandate in place that is going to guarantee a much higher level of vaccination in this city. And that is the key to protecting people and the key to our recovery.”

New York City mask guidelines

In New York City, where cases are about six times higher than in June, de Blasio said he strongly suggests all residents — even the vaccinated — wear face coverings indoors, though he stopped short of mandating the rule. The decision drew criticism from some local officials who say it’s a “huge mistake” to delay another mask requirement, but de Blasio said he’d prefer to focus resources on vaccinating as many New Yorkers as possible — as he did with the $100 incentive he announced last week for people who get a vaccine at city sites.

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